Post-poll, Karnataka govt drops student welfare schemes

Post-poll, Karnataka govt drops student welfare schemes

Post-poll, Karnataka govt drops student welfare schemes

The State government is facing serious financial constraints leading to the dropping of two populist schemes this year - one to distribute free laptops to PU students and another to distribute sanitary napkins to girl students.

The government is also finding it tough to continue the free bicycle scheme for high school girl students. With cycle rates going up, even during 2013-14 the government could not distribute bicycles. The last distribution was in 2012-13 when the BJP was in power.

The financial constraints has forced the government to allow BMTC to increase fares by 15 per cent, from Friday onwards. The decision has come a week after the polling for the LS polls were completed on April 17.

The government has provided Rs 175 cr for purchasing six lakh bicycles. All the three schemes - free laptops, cycles and napkins - are aimed at pre-teens and teenagers.
The Congress had promised to distribute digital notepads and laptops, in its Assembly election manifesto in 2013.

With close to 10.5 lakh I and II PU students in the State, the free laptops promise had triggered a panic situation within the department. But the department and Minister of State for Primary and Secondary Education Kimmane Ratnakar had no option but to explore the possibilities of purchasing laptops. A sum of Rs 300 cr was the estimated cost. It is said that Chief Minister Siddaramaiah decided to drop the scheme.

Even a compromise measure of supplying free laptops to meritorious students was discussed, but to no avail.

Ratnakar said, “As of now we have not decided anything regarding the laptops purchase. I will discuss the matter with the CM and take a call.”

Regarding bicycle purchase, Ratnakar said, “The proposal is scheduled to receive state cabinet approval next week. There has been some delay in finalising tenders due to the model code of conduct.”

However, official sources said that companies which are scheduled to bid for supplying cycles have quoted higher rates, for which the department may find tough to mobilise money.

The state has stopped receiving funds under a Centrally sponsored scheme to distribute free sanitary napkins to high school students.

The scheme was targeted at several hundred girl students enrolled under the Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya. But the scheme has been dropped across the country due to financial constraints.

The Social Welfare Department, however, is contemplating distributing the napkins to SC/ST students of government hostels though there is no  budgetary provision. Department Commissioner S N Jayaram said the proposal would be placed before the State Cabinet.

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